Lower Than the Angels…?
This morning, I started another session with the women’s Bible study that I help lead. There are as many as 30 people in the program and we decided to do a six-week study on the book of Hebrews. This is one of the New Testament books and, to be perfectly transparent, we don’t know who the author is. I tend to believe that it was Paul, but very schooled and intelligent biblical scholars fall on the other side of the debate and attribute to book to someone other than the apostle Paul. No matter – the message is excellent and every Christian should spend some time in this short book.
The purpose of Hebrews, written to the Christian Hebrews somewhere before 70 A.D., is to encourage the Hebrews to stay the course and not go back to their old ways. The book affirms that Jesus is superior to the prophets, Moses, Joshua, the levitical priests and even angels. However, in the second chapter, we are told that Jesus was created a little lower than the angels! How can that be? Is it a misprint? This is certainly not true, is it? God is above everything, right?
Well, God is superior to all – but to understand the passage better, a little knowledge of angels is helpful. Angels were the first created beings and they live eternally once created. They don’t marry and angels have very specific ministries that include the worship of God, escorting believers to heaven when they die – and too many other responsibilities to discuss in this short post. They are messengers of God. In fact, the Greek word “Angelos” means messenger.
So while we are very familiar with angels from the Scripture, we really don’t think about their limitations. For example, they don’t suffer like humans, they don’t die (even though there are “fallen angels” who side with Satan rather than God), they don’t reproduce and they have never been human. God created them “above” mankind during life on earth but angels will serve believers once they are in heaven. So, angels actually change roles depending on whether we are in heaven or on earth. And, by the way, people don’t become angels when they die and enter heaven…
While the Godhead, including the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are clearly above the angels (the Godhead created angels), God decided to send His Son to earth, in human form, to grow and minister among us until His death on a cross – and subsequent resurrection. Jesus came to live among us, fully human, while also fully divine. But to clearly identify with us as humans, it was necessary for Jesus to be born in the physical sense. So He suffered, faced frustrations, and yes, even died, to complete His human experience.
So God had to send a human Jesus “a little lower than the angels” so Jesus could experience what we go through in our mortal lives. Then, through His death and resurrection, Jesus defeated death and cleared the way for our eventual reuniting with God in heaven when we die. His death on a cross was the substitutionary atonement that paid the price for the sins of the world – once and for all.
Angels would never have been able to do the work that Jesus did for us. During His time on earth, Jesus experienced the human sufferings and joys that angels could never do. The good news is that when the work of Jesus was complete, he ascended to sit next to His Father in heaven. Jesus continues to be our intercessor even today.
The author of Hebrews put forth the proposition that in order to help us, Jesus had to be created “a little lower than the angels” before he reassumed His role in heaven. Our verse for tonight is this verse that at first glance seems so difficult to understand. But in reality, it is one of those “nuggets” in the Bible that, with the help of the Holy Spirit, help us to understand the important mission of Jesus to save the world through His earthly existence. The author of Hebrews tells us, in Hebrews 2:9, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” How awesome is this!
Jesus was crowned with glory and honor because, through the grace of God the Father, He died so that we may be reunited with God in heaven. My encouragement this evening is that Jesus and the rest of the Godhead want to spend eternity with believers. In order to do that, Jesus paid the ultimate price so that we can enter heaven when our earthly time is complete. My prayer is that we all may be enlightened and have a better understanding of the difficult verses of the Bible through our trust and faith in the Holy Spirit. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…